Banking sector welcomes aspiring individuals from diverse backgrounds
CEO, The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers
Photo: Edde Ngan
Buoyed by increased public awareness of financial management and the phenomenal influx of investors from mainland China and further afield, Hong Kong's economic landscape is looking rosier than ever. In view of this, financial institutions and practitioners in the industry are pulling out all the stops to step up service in a bid to satisfy discerning customers' insatiable demand for sophisticated financial service and products.
The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) has been particularly keen to take the development of the city's banking industry in its own hands, with a view to help Hong Kong to retain its financial hub standing.
"The objective of our endeavour is to move the Hong Kong pillar industry and its people with time and global trends," says HKIB chief Carrie Leung.
Over the years, the HKIB has rolled out a number of large-scale events and study programmes, putting Hong Kong's banking and finance industry in the spotlight.
The 2006 inception of the HKIB's Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards, for instance, underscored the importance of wealth management services in Hong Kong. This signature event, which runs annually, encourages professional advancement through peer interaction and healthy competition.
"The participants have demonstrated increased sophistication and professionalism," Ms Leung notes. In view of the rising number of high net worth individuals in Hong Kong and across the Chinese border, the HKIB last year incorporated a third competition category to reflect the growing investor demand for private banking service. "We will continue to modify the competition model and assessment criteria in accordance with market trends," she remarks.
Support from banking leaders has been vital to the success of the HKIB's endeavours. Citibank has been one eager supporter of the HKIB Awards and a number of its personnel have over the last five years grabbed top accolades from the event.
Maisie Lam, country human resources director, Citi Hong Kong, says, the annual event enhances the development of the participants and raises the level of professionalism and the status of the banking and finance industry.
country human resources director
Citi Hong Kong
Photo: Louis Lam
Washed by the 2008 financial "tsunami", banking customers and practitioners alike are now more attuned to the volatile nature of the global market and are therefore better acquainted with the requirements for a constructive, trusting planner-customer relationship. In particular, these include a high level of integrity and best practice on the service side.
Mrs Lam reveals that market expansion and product diversification have also fuelled industry development, providing more career opportunities for experienced practitioners as well as people looking to enter the field.
"Customers nowadays expect their planners to be attentive listeners, well versed in risk assessment and possess updated market knowledge," she remarks. "We make every effort to ensure that our staff keep pace with their customers' changing financial aspirations and market developments."
She adds that the bank not only encourages its staff to take part in internal training and external programmes, it also has in place a re-certification mechanism which ensures that its staff keep up with the level of competency that is expected of them.
Ms Leung emphasises that Hong Kong's banking sector needs competent specialists as well as generalists ready for making a meaningful contribution to the sustainability of the wider industry.
For this very reason, a career in banking is no longer exclusive to finance graduates with banking experience, Mrs Lam stresses. She believes that people with a strong passion and good interpersonal skills will also excel in this dynamic industry.
"Aspirants may enrol in related study programmes to make up for their lack of experience and subsequently build up their competence on the job and through in-house training," she says, pointing out that some of the bank's own training and development programmes are accredited by the HKIB and Citibank staff that have completed those would be exempted from some modules along the HKIB's Certified Financial Management Planner (CFMP) pathway.
Ms Leung explains that the broad-based Certified Financial Management Planner (CFMP) programme is Hong Kong's first to combine wealth management practice with banking operation to cover everything from financial planning to insurance, taxation and succession planning.
The curriculum of the CFMP programme equips aspiring individuals with all the prerequisites for breaking into the field. As such, Ms Leung reveals, an encouraging number of people are plunging in.
Meanwhile, in a bid to help those looking to tap into the banking sector and to keep practitioners in the field on track towards their advancement goals, the HKIB also offers Accredited Banking Practitioners (ABP), Certified Professional (CP) and Associate of Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (AHKIB) programmes, giving budding professionals a leg up the banking career ladder. These programmes are pegged at various levels of the government's Qualifications Framework.
"Specialist skills are best executed with a flair for interpersonal communication and mutual trust," Ms Leung adds. "We look to all-round professionals to propel Hong Kong's banking and finance industry forward."
Take the plunge into banking
Kick start a banking career - a free seminar
Date: 8 September 2011 (Thursday)
Time: 7pm - 8:30pm
Venue: The HKIB training centre, 3/F Guangdong Investment Tower, 148 Connaught Road Central
To register, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, telephone number, email address and current occupation
Taken from Career Times 26 August 2011